So many people had journeys to make. And Mary and Joseph also had a journey to make. They travelled from Nazareth a town in Galilee, upwards to the village of Bethlehem in the hills of Judea. Whether or on a donkey, or by foot, the journey passed through lush olive groves and dry desert climes. Bethlehem was widely known as the “town of David” and Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, secure in the knowledge that Joseph belonged to the house of David, for Joseph was a descendent of King David himself. Joseph went with Mary to the village of Bethlehem, to register for Caesar Augustus’ census.
Mary was Joseph’s betrothed, his fiancé who he was to marry. She was pregnant with a child to be born of God. They arrived in Bethlehem in the midst of busyness, people coming and going, travelling from far and wide to register for Caesar Augustus’ census. They found hospitality with Joseph’s distant family. The family already had guests in the guest room and so Joseph and the heavily pregnant Mary found themselves sharing the family room with the cousins of a previous generation.
While they were staying with Joseph’s distant family Mary’s labour began. As her contractions grew more regular, women from the neighbourhood started to arrive at the house, they made their way through the stable and up the few steps into the family room with its assorted mangers. As the women arrived, the men of the household offered Mary encouragement and then left to await the news in a neighbour’s house. Then the nearest the village had to a midwife arrived and with the women from the community helped to deliver the baby. Mary’s first child, her son was born and swaddled in cloths and placed into a sheep’s manger. The women from the neighbourhood dispersed and the men returned. And so it was that the boy slept his first night in a room with Mary and Joseph, and some distant relatives as well.